Norton Commander

Along with PCTools, this was one of the best utility programs under MsDos and also a hugely popular program that made PeterNorton? known worldwide. He did not write this program, however.

All the files in your hard drive would be shown inside a sort of rectangle or in a double rectangle. You could view the contents of a file by highlighting it and pushing F3, or edit it by pushing F4. You could copy a file by pushing F5, move it (F6), delete it (F8). You could enter a subdirectory by highlighting it and hitting return or create one by pushing F7, and create a file with shift-F4.

But the great thing was that you could use the DOS prompt at the same time as Norton Commander, which was made easier by making the panels take up only half the screen, by hiding the left panel or turning off fullscreen mode, or by pushing ctrl-o to hide both panels.

The last edition of Norton Commander was 1995 as far as I know. When DOS died, Norton Commander died in its side (though it can still be downloaded).

Norton Navigator

The succeeding product was Norton Navigator, a set of utilities which included a Windows Explorer replacement called the Norton File Manager. NN allowed multiple desktops, directory tree synchronization, plug-in file viewers, and other niftiness. Norton File Manager was quite similar in appearance to Explorer (native Windows app, long file names, etc.) but added many useful features such as file/folder comparison, integrated Zip compression, and customizable folder views. Symantec killed Norton Navigator when FAT32 file systems arrived, probably due to poor sales. (How many people would pay for an excellent file manager when they got [a barely functional] one with the operating system?)

Interestingly enough, even though NN supposedly didn't understand FAT32 (not to mention NTFS), the Norton File Manager seems to work fine on my Win2K system.

From yesterday to today

The best clone I know of is MidnightCommander, which can be found at, but it doesn't work under Windows unless you're using CygWin. -- ChristofferHammarstrom

For Windows, use FAR manager ( It looks like NC (runs in a Win32 console), but has a whole lot of additional features and is extensible via plugins.

Other popular work- and look-alikes for MsDos are: And there must be a dozen other remakes for Unix/LinuxOs, see

This kind of filemanager is obviously still very popular. There is a rather nice cross-platform clone called MuCommander? ( implemented in JavaLanguage, licensed under GPL, and actively developed (as of August 2007).

There's a thing called Windows Commander, or now even Total Commander at, haven't used it myself, but from afar it's quite like NortonCommander for this day and age of windows. (Unless I'm mistaken) -- StijnSanders

I have used Windows Commander since early days in Win3.1 .... although it lacks the "view" option that Norton Commander had in its last renderings, from all other perspectives (including as an FTP program) it is an excellent replacement for windows file is THE most used program on my system (other than the OS itself). Part of its contribution to usability is a file viewer and editor which allow me considerable control into my system (for all those pesky files that you don't know what they are...or where a quick peek inside is useful). Combined with key commands, it makes using windows far easier than any of the native programs. If I was to recommend buying one piece of software, it would be Total Commander (the new name after a letter from Microsoft). For those who manage a server or file server, check out winscp at makes navigating the file structure of my server a well as quick edits of files. It too is a NC clone, but it only works from desktop to server -- MikeBowen?

This is incorrect. There's a view command, it's F3. It will "view" based on the file. If it's text, it'll show it with the built-in txt viewer, if it's an MP3 or video, it'll play it. Total Commander is very, very much like the old Norton Commander, but with more power, and works with all Win platforms, and with FAT, FAT32 and NTFS. I use it constantly, and never use Windows Explorer. (No one would once they've installed this nifty program.)

There are even web-based NortonCommander clones out these days, just have a look at for a Wiki-related example.

Fortunately Symantec didn't killed Norton Commander at all. It is still available in both version: text mode NC 5.51 and graphic mode NC 2.01, both supports long file names. Instead of showing in some modes short names in NC 5.51 it always copies, creates and renames correctly long file names. It is last ever version of NC available.

I still use NN under Win2k and XP - most of it still works. I install it by simply copying the files to a couple of locations.

The key weakness of (perhaps all) the clones is that they do not have savable 'Location Sets' and 'Searches'. For example I have a saved search which finds all the jpgs modified in the past two days in my browser cache.

I also value the 'entire branch' function - which shows all the files in folder tree. And the outline mode which allows you to hide and reveal files of particular types, and the filters. And the ftp (which is in some of the competition). And all in the same Windows window. The new release (8.0) of Quick View Plus integrates just fine.

I have found Xplorer2 (that should be squared, but isn't doable in Wiki) an excellent replacement for Norton Commander in the Windows environment. -- Hilary Reynolds

Related Products

PopDos? -- used to ship with either the LogiTech? mouse (LogitechMouse?) or the DexxaMouse?. Could be controlled either using keyboard or (surprise) the mouse. Superior to the DOS GUI thing that shipped with 4.0 and later.

ExTree? (X-Tree) (nowadays replaced by the 32-bit ZeeTree (Z-Tree) clone) -- Originally intended for disk and file management, the Pro and Gold versions added an application launcher menu. Incidentally, for those who have missed the clean functionality of X-Tree, may I suggest a visit to for a refresher in well-written software.

NortonCommander is an example of an Orthodox File Manager. More information and a standard can be found at

Anything Norton we would remove and the computer just atarted to work. Norton is a jackass.

X Tree however, is deeply missed.

CategoryOldSoftware, CategorySoftwareTool

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